Battling Bengals sink struggling San Diego

Sun Dec 2, 2012 9:49pm EST
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By Simon Evans

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The Cincinnati Bengals won their fourth successive game with a 20-13 win at the free-falling San Diego Chargers on Sunday to move into playoff contention.

The Chargers have now lost seven of their last eight games, leaving the future of their much criticized head coach Norv Turner looking bleak and their fans once again venting their frustration at the end of the game.

Andy Dalton put the Bengals ahead with 4:11 remaining, diving into the end-zone after a clever scramble and then a Mike Nugent field goal extended the advantage to seven points.

The game was over when, with the Chargers on a fourth and 10 on the Bengals 17-yard line, quarterback Philip Rivers' throw into the end zone was intercepted by Reggie Nelson.

That prompted boos from the Chargers faithful who swarmed towards the exits as their team's playoffs hopes were left as little more than a mathematical possibility.

San Diego are 4-8 behind the Denver Broncos (9-3) who have already secured the title in the weak AFC West division and their wildcard chances look slim.

The Bengals in contrast improved to 7-5 in the AFC North, level with Pittsburgh who defeated divisional leaders Baltimore (9-3) on Sunday.

"We are obviously in the hunt for this thing," said Dalton, "We know the end goal but you can't look too far ahead. We have to come out and play our best next week," he said of the home game against the Dallas Cowboys.   Continued...

Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (42) is pushed out-of-bounds by San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle (32) after a 41-yard run in the first half of their NFL football game in San Diego, California December 2, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo